Stories Embedded in My Heart

March 2nd, 2023

1) Twinkies and Grape Juice


A young boy was packing his backpack with Twinkies and bottles of grape juice.

“Where are you going, Tommy?” asked the mother.

“I am going to find God,” Tommy replied.

The boy walked for a while and then found a park. He sat down on a park bench next to a homeless woman. They chatted and eventually Tommy got  hungry. He took out a Twinkie and offered one to the lady. They both ate their Twinkies. He took out 2 bottles of grape juice, gave one to the lady. They clinked their bottles together and laughed. They continued to chat.

Later, Tommy came home.

“How was your day?” asked his mother.

“Well, I found God and she was not anything like I expected,” he replied.

“How are you doing?” asked a friend of the homeless woman in the park.

“I just talked to God, and he was a lot younger than I thought he would be,” she said.


2) Baseball Practice

Some moments in life are so delightful and precious that they should never come to an end. Those are the ones we preserve in our memory, like pickles in vinegar.

One of my favorite memories is when my father would come home from his job on the military base and often play catch with my brother Mike and I. Mike was 6 and I was 4.

We all had baseball gloves and we would toss the ball around for a while. Then my father would be the umpire. My brother and I would take turns, one of us would hit while the other pitched, then we switched roles.

My father kept us entertained. Sometimes after catching a pitch, which only traveled at the speed of 1 0r 2 miles per hour, he would whip off his glove, shake his fingers and blow on his hand. 

“Don’t throw those pitches so fast, my hand is burning,” he would say.

Other times he would call a strike by shouting out “STRIIIIIIKE,” and pump his arm furiously, to our delight.

My father could take an everyday game of catch and turn it into a stupendous adventure.

When he was ready to rest or go to dinner, we begged him not to stop.

“Just 5 more minutes,” we would shout.

“Okay,” he would say, and the game would continue that day, and ultimately find a permanent place in my heart.


3) Mom and Movies

When I was 5 or 6 years old, I was curious about the birds and the bees.

 I asked my mother, “Where do babies come from?”

She thought I said ‘rabies’ and she said, “That is when a sick dog bites someone.”

I nodded my head and said, “ooooh.”

That kept me perplexed for years to come.

My mother used to take me shopping with her on Saturday mornings to Pennys and Woolworths. In Penny’s she would shop for clothes while I would look at toys. 

Sometimes I got lost in the store. 

“I can’t  find my mother,” I would tell a clerk with tears in my eyes and a shaky voice. 

The clerk, with precise enunciation,  would announce over the loudspeaker. “Will the mother of Terry please come to the front cashier and collect her lost son.”

Often, after shopping, my mother would take me to watch a kid movie.

I have a crystal clear memory of watching movies like  “Alakazam” about a young monkey that studied to become a magician, then saved his village from an evil force. I also keenly remember, “The Magic Sword,” which had an evil wizard, a damsel in distress and a rugged young knight who was not afraid to fight monsters or giants.

I’m not sure how much enjoyment it was for her, but it was absolutely thrilling for me.

Other times, I would go with her to the grocery store and we would stop along the way at Winchell’s Donuts where we both would get a coke and a donut. My favorite donut was one with white frosting and chocolate sprinkles.

At the grocery store I would turn in glass soda bottles that I had collected and receive 5 cents for each bottle. The money I received, sometimes as much as 50 cents, seemed like a fortune to me at the time.

My father passed away from a heart attack in 1982. It was a shock to me. Even though he had been taking “nitroglycerin” pills to thin his blood, and we had driven him to the emergency ward several times for heart palpitations, I always thought of him as invincible. 

It seemed strange to me the morning after he passed away. I watched the cars of people zooming to work and people continuing their normal lives as if  nothing had changed. At the same time it was a cataclysmic event for me. The man I admired most in my life was gone forever.

I phoned my mom almost every day after that to check on her.

One day I made a list of my fondest memories of my time together with my mother and I gave it to her in 1997. 

When she passed away in 2013, I began to organize all of her possessions. I found a suitcase that contained many of her important papers. It was filled with receipts, warranties and several photos that I had never seen. Inside of one folder I found the list of memories that I had written for her. It warmed my heart to think that she had kept it all those years.

Stories give comfort and keep us connected to the past. In addition, they are much cheaper than therapy.

Did you see God today? 

You might never know unless you capture the stories that pass before your eyes each day.

A Speech presented at From Pen to Podium Toastmasters  2.11.2023

Related Links

Always Say “Yes” 

My Doozie of an Experience as Santa Claus 

Places in the Heart

Pen to Podium Toastmasters Open House

February 14th, 2023

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Awaken the Sleeping Giant Within – The Abe Lincoln Way

Best Stories about Abe Lincoln – The Lightning Rod

What do millionaires do that most people do not do?

The Mt Lemmon Rescue

September 13th, 2022

I say, “If you want to have a good memory, you must do something that is memorable.”

Let me tell you about my son, who I affectionately refer to as “Bub.”

Bub studies engineering at the University of Arizona. He lives with my wife and I and, to say the least, he likes to ride his motorcycle.

Exactly two of weeks ago, Bub rode his motorcycle up to mount Lemon late in the afternoon. He had sent me some pictures of some cows around 8 pm. I was expecting him back soon but then he texted me at 9 pm to say “My motorcycle broke down on the far side of Mt Lemon. Come to the Control Road and drive south towards Oracle. I will start walking up the mountain to meet you.”

“I’m on the way.” I texted back.

My wife jumped in the truck with me and we sped up Mt. Lemmon, like a race car in the Indianapolis 500. We arrived in the village of Summerhaven, at the top of Mt Lemon, around 10:30 pm. We didn’t know exactly where the Control Road was but we eventually managed to locate it, near the Fire Station.

We were worried because we lost communication with Bub. He must have walked out of phone range. I had horrible thoughts about Bub walking up the mountain and being attacked by bears or snakes. I had a flashback to when we would take Bub hiking in the mountains as a child. When he got tired of walking, I would carry him on my back.

I wished that I could protect him that easily now.

My heart skipped a beat when it started to rain and bolts of lightning flashed around us, like a nightmarish scene out of a Franz Kafka novel. We drove down the rough and craggy road at about 2 miles per hour, weaving back and forth across it to avoid the large rocks. With each turn in the road and no sign of Bub, we became more filled with dread. It weighed heavy on our hearts that we had no communication with Bub for 3 hours.

I stopped the truck when I saw the road take a sharp dip down. I got out to examine the road to make sure we were able to get through.

Just then, a female deputy sheriff officer, drove up beside us with jeep lights flashing.

“Are you looking for Jimmy?” she asked.

“No we are looking for our son Bub. His motorcycle broke down up here.”

She said, “I received a call earlier tonight. Someone reported seeing him walking down the road. He should be about 4 miles away. Follow me and I will lead you.”

My heart leapt in joy to hear that Bryan was on the radar screen.

She barreled out in front of us and proceeded down the mountain at a rapid pace. We continued down at our cautious snail’s pace. 20 minutes later she came back up the mountain. Bub was in the car with her.

It was a happy reunion. He got in the truck and we proceeded to drive back down the road another 3 miles to collect Bryan’s broken motorcycle. I brought a 2 x 8 board that we use as a ramp to load the motorcycle on the bed of the truck. Unfortunately, the back wheel of the motorcycle was frozen and would not turn. To get the motorcycle into the truck we had to lift the back half of the motorcycle and push it up the ramp at the same time. Like Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the mountain for eternity.

And when I say “we” pushed the motorcycle up the ramp, of course I mean only Bub, who is as strong as an ox. My wife and I could only offer minimal assistance, considering our wide assortment of hernias, sore backs and other ailments. With much gratuitous grunting Bryan got the cycle on the pickup and he drove back up the mountain through the rain and lightning.

It was 2 am as we headed home. I was grateful that everything turned out as well as it did. I thought to myself, “This is one adventure that will stick in my memory, like a piece of gum stuck to the bottom of my shoe.”

This is a speech I delivered to “From Pen to Podium” Toastmasters, 8.13.2022.


May 17th, 2022

I will be participating as one of the speakers.

To register, click here:

Click here for the list of talks:

What do millionaires do that most people do not do?

April 23rd, 2021

What do millionaires do that most people do not do?

Go into Politics?

By their own Starbucks?

Become a bearded recluse?

These are some things that millionaires do, but according to Thomas Stanley, in “The Millionaire Next Door,” most American millionaires own their own houses, and they own at least one rental property.

My perspective is, “If it works for millionaires, it ought to work for us too.”

Michangelo said, “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we hit it.”

The American Association of Realtors state, “the average person purchases 7 houses during the course of their lifetime.”

The common path most people follow is to sell the home that they currently live in, then use the cash from that sale to buy a new house. But, these houses are actually valuable assets that can provide long-term family security.

Do n0t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs!

What I propose, is that instead of selling your old home, just refinance it, and use that money as a down payment on your next house. Now you own two houses. One for you and your family, and the second home is working for you.

Two immediate advantages are: 1) you have a new source of “passive” income; 2) your equity accelerates like a race car. Equity is the how much the house is worth minus how much you owe. On average, a house will increase in value about 5% per year.

For example, if you purchase a house today for $200,000, you have no equity. But, if you keep that house for 20 years, you will have accumulated $100,000 in equity. If you owned 2 houses, you would have accumulated $200,000 in equity.

Let me tell you the astonishing story about my wife and I.  We are partners in marriage and in our real estate business. Who says married couples can not be business partners? And the good thing is, we have never considered divorce. Murder sometimes, but never divorce.

I had a steady salary as a university researcher in 2001. When the World Trade Center was bombed in 2001, my salary was cut in half, as federal grants that funded my job were diverted to the War on Terror.

I had a very intense period of soul searching and research, along with gratuitous whining and moping.

My wife and I decided that a real estate business was the way to go. We bought a course from a TV Info-mercial. At that point, I felt we had crossed the Rubicon!

It was easy to start a business because real estate investing didn’t require any special license, training, or degree.

We found an inexpensive fixer upper house in a relatively nice neighborhood. We moved into it while we made repairs. Most importantly we did not sell our original house. We rented it out.

The first thing we did was to get one of the bathrooms into working order. My wife’s stance was, “I am not living in that house unless at least one bathroom is fully operational.” Who can argue with a mother’s logic?

Now we have done it for 20 years, we’ve had 3 rental houses, and last year we sold one of the houses. My 2 sons have worked side by side with us on the houses. It wouldn’t surprise me if they purchase their own rental houses in the future.

I say, “Let’s do what millionaires do. If it works for them, it can work for us too.”

It worked so well, my wife and I wrote a book about our experiences, entitled, “Turn Your Home into a Rental House Instead of Selling It!”


This is a speech I delivered to “From Pen to Podium” Toastmasters, 3.27.2021.




My Doozie of an Experience as Santa Claus

January 26th, 2021

“We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”

— Mother Teresa

The 3 stages of a man’s life are:

1) He believes in Santa Claus.

2) He doesn’t believe in Santa Claus.

3) He is Santa Claus.

I work as a substitute teacher in Tucson, Arizona

There are good days and bad days in the life of a substitute teacher. Sometimes, I am satisfied to just survive and live to teach another day.

My substitute teacher motto is: “I am proud to be a substitute teach, until I win the lottery.

Simpson Elementary School is where I often teach. I know the teachers and the students and we are usually one, big happy family.

One day, Ms. Sandy, a giant of a woman who looms over me, asked, “Mr. Terry, the other teachers and I would like you to do us a big, big favor.”

“Ms. Tammy, as you well know, I do the work of 3 men. Larry, Moe and Curley. So ask away.”

“Mr. Terry, would you be Santa Claus for us at the Christmas celebration this year?”

“Some people might consider me too thin to be Santa Claus,” I say. “They allege that I am so thin that I have to move around in the shower to get wet, but I am a warrior; not a worrier, and I have a big pillow.”

“Ms. Tammy it is my honor to be Santa Claus.  Count me in!”

When the big day arrives, about 60 kids, parents, and teachers are packed into the library like sardines in a can.

I put on my Santa costume in a library storage room.

I hear the sing-singy voice of Ms. Tammy. “Okay Santa we are ready for you.”

I bound out of the closet. “Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!” I say.

“Yaaaaay” The kids scream. Some kids gap in amazement. Many kids run up and hug me. They surround me like the Munchkins did to Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.

Wearing the Santa costume has transformed me. I could actually channel the spirit of Santa Claus. I radiated overwhelming love for the kids and I absorbed their love for me.

I wedged my way through the wall of little bodies to get to the Santa Chair.”

The teachers had the students form a line.

The first little girl in line was Maria. She just stood there. Tears ran down her cheeks. Impatient kids behind her in line, shouted “hurry up” and “keep moving.”

“Tell Santa what you would like for Christmas,” I say.

Maria just stares and cries.

“Okay Maria, why don’t you think about what you would like and I will ask you again later.”

The teachers removed her from the line and the bottleneck is cleared.

Next in line was Jimmy. After climbing on my lap, he said. “I want an X-box a computer game, a Frozen movie, a toy race car . . ..,”

I interrupt him. “Whoa Jimmy! Slow down! Santa has a new rule. Only one toy request per child.”

After Jimmy, my job becomes a repetitive assembly line process. A child sits on my lap. They tell me what toy they want. I say “Ho Ho Ho.” The parent snaps a picture.

The pace is broken when Enrique gets on my lap. I know he is a trouble maker. He finished 3rd place in the Curley Howard Look Alike Contest.

“You’re not Santa Claus. You’re Mr. Terry,” he spouts.

“Ho ho ho, that’s impossible, Mr. Terry does not have a long white beard, as I do.”

“No, you are Mr. Terry,” he said and he pull on my beard.

“Alright Enrique, Santa Claus puts you on probation. No Christmas gift for you until you are nice to people. I will be in communication with your mother.”

I nudge him off me lap.

When, the last child slides off my dog-tired lap, I stand up.

I say, “Merry Christmas to everyone! I will now return to the North Pole to get Christmas gifts ready.”

“Yaaay!” the kids shout.

As I walk away, Maria popped out of the crowd, ran over to me and hugged my leg. In a tiny voice, she said, “Please bring me a doll.”

I put one my knee on the floor and I looked her in the eye.

In my most sincere Santa voice, I said, “I’ll do my best. Merry Christmas.”

At the end of the day, I know that I was not the greatest Santa Claus in the world, but I put my heart into.

I did not do a great thing, but I did do a small thing with great love.

Ben Franklin’s New Year Advice

January 1st, 2021


Be at war with your Vices, at Peace with your Neighbors, and let every New Year find you a better man.

Benjamin Franklin


Best Stories about Abe Lincoln – The Lightning Rod

July 6th, 2020

The Lightning Rod

When Lincoln was a candidate for re-election to the Illinois Legislature in 1836, a meeting was held in the court house in Springfield, at which candidates of opposing parties were to speak.

George Forquer was a prominent citizen of Springfield. He had been a Whig, but became a Democrat – possibly to secure the position of Government Land Register from President Andrew Jackson. He had the largest and finest house in the city, and there was a striking addition to it, called a lightning-rod!

Forquer, although not a candidate, asked to be heard for the Democrats, to reply to Lincoln. He was a good speaker, and well known throughout the county. His special task that day was to attack and ridicule the young man from Salem.

Turning to Lincoln, who stood within a few feet of him, he said: “This young man must be taken down, and I am truly sorry that the task devolves upon me.” He then proceeded to attack Lincoln in a very overbearing way, and with an air of great superiority. He was fluent and adept at rough sarcasm. He ridiculed Lincoln’s appearance, dress, and opinions so fiercely that Lincoln’s friends feared the he would be too embarrassed to respond.

Lincoln stood calm, but his flashing eye and pale cheek indicated his indignation. Lincoln took the podium and stated,

“The gentleman commenced his speech by saying that ‘this young man,’ alluding to me, must be taken down. I am not so young in years as I am in the tricks and the trades of a politician, but, live long or die young, I would rather die now than, like the gentleman (pointing to Forquer), change my politics and with the change receive an office worth $3,000 a year. And then, feel obliged to erect a lightning-rod over my house, to protect a guilty conscience from an offended God!”


Lincoln home in Springfield, IL with no lightning rod attached!



This story is a recollection of a speech made by Lincoln in 1836, as told to William Herndon by Lincoln’s long time pal Joshua Speed. From, How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones, by Terry Sprouse.

Life is Punny and Forever

June 26th, 2019

PIZZA ood-Pun-1-1

A few weeks ago my wife’s cat died. We buried her beside the house. My wife was very sad. I told her, “Don’t worry about Tabby. She is okay. I’m sure that she is in Purr… gatory.”Cat 40131-image_59c2b15479ac5.jpg

I am a proud proponent of the mighty pun. Puns brighten the lives of others. I believe that a good pun is its own re-word.

Furthermore, punsters are seen wise, witty, and whimsical. A force to be reckoned with.

Historically, powerful puns have compressed layers of meaning into fewer words.

At the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin said, “We must all hang together or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

1) Kid Puns – Have you ever seen a horse fly?

Children like puns because it’s like playing a trick on someone. They expect one thing and something else appears. Often kids will give a straight answer to the setup question. So they are even more surprised by the funny switch.

What 2 things can you never eat for lunch? Breakfast and dinner.

Why is 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 ate 9.

What do you give to a sick bird? Tweetment.

What’s the difference between a piano and a fish? You can tuna piano but you can’t tuna fish.

What disappears as soon as you say its name? Silence.

2) Puns for Big Kids

How do you feel when there is no coffee? Depressocoffee

What do you call an empty can of Cheez Whiz? Cheese Was.

Present, Past and Future walk into a bar. It was tense.

3) Punny Observations

My get up and go got up and went.

I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

Sure I drink brake fluid. But I can stop anytime.

My dog can do magic tricks. She’s a Labra”kadabra”dor.

4) Special Puns for “Certifiable Pun-atics”

What does the dyslexic, agnostic, insomniac do? He lays awake at night wondering if dog godthere is really a dog.

Gandhi walked across the desert with little food and no oral hygiene products. At the end of his journey, he was a: super callused fragile mystic vexed with halitosis.

A Challenge – Just for the Pun of It

I challenge you to make the world a happier place.

I ask you to take 2 steps:

1) Pretend that life is funny and forever.

2) Keep a little notebook with you, to jot down new puns to share with others.

As an author, my final words are:

“When I am dead, I hope it may be said:

‘His sins were scarlet, but his books were read.’ ”


Coming Presentations:

September 14, 2019. “Lincoln’s Most Powerful Personality Trait.” Pen to Podium Toastmasters,Tucson, AZ.

September 20, 2019. “How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones.” Tucson Civil War Study Group. Tucson, AZ, 10:00 am.

February 12, 2020. “How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones.” Sun City Anthem @ Merrill Ranch in Florence, AZ, 2:00 pm.

Related Links

Like Abe Lincoln, Be Prepared with a “Quip” or a Bit of Humor

Emulate Abraham Lincoln: Make Each Day Count

The “Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

Always greet everyone, no matter what they look like

Employ an Affable Lincolnesque Persona

Be a Generous Listener, as Abe Lincoln Was

Deflect Criticism with Self-deprecating Humor

Always Say “Yes”

Be a Master of Disaster – Ponder the big picture

Nourish humor and tell stories, so people say — “I felt like I had known him/her my whole life and we had long been friends.”

Awaken the Sleeping Giant Within – The Abe Lincoln Way

May 3rd, 2018

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.” Abraham Lincoln, 1854.

In 1849, after serving one term as a US Congressman, and with no political prospects, it looked like Lincoln would be relegated to the dust bin of history. He resigned himself to the life of a travelling lawyer (a circuit rider). Although he was extremely good at his job, he probably felt despair that his desire for a life in politics was beyond his reach.

In 1854, Lincoln’s life changed dramatically. Under the guidance of his long-time rival,Senator Stephan Douglas, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, a law which repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820, and changed the way that slavery was dealt with in the United States. Under the Missouri Compromise, slavery was essentially bottled up and restricted to the 13 southern states.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act allowed slavery to expand into the new territories of Kansas and Nebraska, as well as to any other state, based on a majority vote. Lincoln, and other residents of northern states, were outraged that the evil of slavery could now spread like cancer to other states.

Lincoln was awakened like a sleeping giant. To stop this injustice became Lincoln’s all consuming passion.

“The passage of the bill roused me as never before,” said Lincoln (Letter to Joshua Speed, 1855).

A carefully crafted speech delivered in New York City, in 1860, propelled Lincoln onto the national stage like a hurricane, and established him as a credible Republican candidate for the presidency.

What awakens the sleeping giant in you?

If you can tie your deepest feelings to the thing that you do with your life, then you are following in Lincoln’s footsteps, and your life has true meaning.

My Path

Deep inside, I knew that I was more than just someone doomed to spend my life working an 8:00 to 5:00 job. I felt I had untapped skills and potential to write books and to be a public speaker. I started writing books in 2007, in my spare time, while working my regular job. My big opportunity came when I was laid off from my job, in 2010, and I was able to channel my energies into a writing and speaking career.

Focusing on Abraham Lincoln was an easy choice for me. He had long been a hero for me. As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras in 1987, I read Carl Sandberg’s epic book, “Abraham Lincoln.” It was the greatest book I had ever read about the greatest man who had ever lived. It awakened in me the desire to both, become a writer, and to draw closer to Lincoln.

A “Lincoln-ized” Life

I am a short, skinny, balding, hair color enhanced 63-year-old former Peace Corps Volunteer. Abraham Lincoln is a human quote factory. Everything he said is either inspirational, insightful, or funny. Connecting with Abraham Lincoln is the best thing that ever happened to me.

When a radio host asked singer Don McLean, “What is the meaning of your song American Pie?” He replied, “It means that I never have to work again.”

In my case, linking my life with Abraham Lincoln does not mean that I never work again. However, my job is doing what I love most, to help individuals to “Lincoln-ize” their existence. I exhort others to fuse their spirit to that of Lincoln, and in so doing, to live a life filled with passion and purpose.

Coming Presentations:

June 5, 2018. How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny BonesArizona Society for Professional Hypnosis. Scottsdale Senior Community Center,1700 North Granite Reef Road, Meeting Room 7, Scottsdale, AZ, 6:30 pm.

June 7, 2018, “How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories,” Tucson Veterans Toastmasters Club, Pima Downtown University Campus, Roosevelt Building, room RV136, Tucson, AZ. Noon to 1:00 PM.

October 20, 2018. How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny BonesPrescott Valley Public Library (7401 E. Civic Circle), 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Prescott, AZ.

February 16, 2019. “How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones.” Church of the Nazarne in the Village of Oak. Sedona, AZ, 1:30-2:30 pm.

September 20, 2019. “How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones.” Tucson Civil War Study Group. Tucson, AZ, 10:00 am.

February 12, 2020. “How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones.” Sun City Anthem @ Merrill Ranch in Florence, AZ, 2:00 pm.




Amazon Link


Related Links

Like Abe Lincoln, Be Prepared with a “Quip” or a Bit of Humor

Emulate Abraham Lincoln: Make Each Day Count

The “Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

Always greet everyone, no matter what they look like

Employ an Affable Lincolnesque Persona

Be a Generous Listener, as Abe Lincoln Was

Deflect Criticism with Self-deprecating Humor

Always Say “Yes”

Be a Master of Disaster – Ponder the big picture

Nourish humor and tell stories, so people say — “I felt like I had known him/her my whole life and we had long been friends.”


The Keys to Success II: The Best is Yet to Come

Amazon Link